Childhood is a magical time when children discover the world, and it is important to give them the opportunity to explore. One of the best ways to do this is through the world of music. Children placed in a residential social service to learn a musical instrument, however, face a number of obstacles.
Through the implementation of the “Music for Everyone” project, Nellie Music provides high-quality guitar lessons to children housed in two Centers for Family-type Accommodation. Learning a musical instrument is not only a new experience and entertainment for children, but also develops their abilities in a number of areas such as concentration, connection between physical and mental action, development of discipline and increasing self-esteem.
During the regular lessons Nellie has been teaching since 2016, she sees how playing a musical instrument gives children a way to express their emotions, see their own progress and thereby develop their confidence in their skills and potential. When teaching at a school in London (UK), she saw how the national standard PES in a musical instrument gave diversity to children, including those who could not afford lessons and instruments and were supported by the state. There is no practice for such activities in Bulgaria and Nellie makes it her mission to give this opportunity and develop a project and team in this activity with the mission of making music accessible to everyone.
Since September 2022, Nellie has been teaching free guitar lessons to children in two Family-type Accommodation Centers, and in November of the same year, Nellie Music won a project of the National Fund “Culture” to continue this activity and purchase appropriate instruments and accessories for children’s education.
Teachers for the project
Neli completed a BA in Music Education at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London and successfully gained a Certificate in Child Protection (Edu Care). After working as a session musician, music manager and teacher in London, he returned to Bulgaria and continued his career here.
He currently teaches personalized guitar lessons to students all over the world. Neli is also the founder and driver of the Internet community “Guitar Family”, where over 100 people exchange experiences and regularly receive learning materials and advice from Nellie.
In addition to Neli, the Neli Music team has two other teachers specializing in different fields.
Renton graduated with a BA in Music Education from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London.
He plays as part of various bands, works in a musical instrument store, and currently teaches at the Anglo-American College in Sofia.
He specializes in the areas of: rock music, acoustic guitar, electric guitar soloing, techniques, rhythm development, funk, fusion and improvisation.
What are we up to now?
The first step in the implementation of the project was the purchase of equipment suitable for children to conduct effective lessons. Since the children are between the ages of 6-17, the sizes of guitars for them vary, and for the youngest, it was necessary to purchase special instruments of a smaller size. In addition to guitars, other accessories were needed for quality teaching, such as guitar stands, strings, nibs, capos, etc.
The equipment in question was bought from a high-quality music equipment store, and after a few sessions it arrived at Nellie’s!
Renton and Neli spent a few days unpacking and getting all the instruments ready to give to the kids, and they agreed on when to give the guitars to the kids.
Since delivering the guitars, all the children have picked songs they’d like to learn and we have started working on some of those during our weekly lessons.
They have started learning and are mastering:
✅ The parts of the guitar;
✅ A few basic guitar chords;
✅ To aurally distinguish between higher and lower notes;
✅ How to play strumming patterns;
✅ To aurally distinguish between major and minor chords;
✅ A ‘flamenco’ type song;
✅ A Turkish song;
✅ A good few Bulgarian songs.
I am very pleased with their progress so far and am looking forward to seeing their continued development and confidence on the guitar!
I have been introducing the guitar to kids – of all sorts of ages! It’s been my job for over 7 years. But teaching at a foster home has been quite new to me! Teaching varied ages in one group with all different music tastes at their home is quite difficult. People tend to feel more relaxed at their homes, so some kids don’t pay too much attention when they’re tired. But that is OK – we all have our on and off days!
Since last month the kids have kept working on their aural skills and I do see improvement! So we continue to give them more exercises and also harder ones to develop their musical hearing.
They have learned the basic version of the C#m chord and are playing it along to a Bulgarian song that they picked. We have continued to solidify their knowledge on the parts of the guitar and all the previous things they had learned also. It’s important to turn what they learn into long-term knowledge so they can recall it whenever they may need it! It also encourages them to be more tenacious with their
Seeing the results from our joint efforts is quite rewarding and I can’t wait to see how their skills develop in the next months!
The kids keep learning. They had a little Easter break, but also started learning a Bulgarian Easter song called “Ко, ко, яйчица” which would translate to “cluck, cluck, little eggs”. So sweet!
They’re also keeping up with the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle, ear exercises and other chords and Bulgarian songs that we have already started. I can see their progress and this makes me really happy! They absorb skills and info like sponges! I’m extremely happy with their progress and look forward to continuing helping them on their musical journey.
The kids continue with their learning and there are now 4 more kids at the home Renton and I teach all of whom want to learn! So our class sizes are getting a bit bigger! Might have to think of a way to make things better with more tutors and dividing into smaller groups, but that’s for future Neli to figure out and recruit.
For now, as we’re feeling the quick passing of time we have started organizing the kids’ 1st concert! It will be in September and we will take videos of their hands and how they play, so you have that to look forward to! They’re such sweet kids and I’m loving showing them songs they want to learn!
With the addition of new kids, we have mostly solidified what the others have already learnt and given the new ones their foundations this month. It’s nice to see that a lot of them are also willing to help each other out in their learning and share their knowledge.
This month we started having lessons with a day care centre that’s associated with the home that stopped their lessons. The kids are very enthusiastic! It it is great that such places exist, that give children an opportunity for mentorship and development.
At the foster home, we continued with the aural training for the kids. We improved on their speed of playing Twinkle Twinkle and identified songs they’d like to play for their concert on 12th September
A highlight of the month was that we managed to play through the whole Happy Birthday melody without metronome! It was very fulfilling to see them achieve such a milestone.
We also got them some more picks since they lost theirs – this time with a little box to store them in. After all, picks are probably the easiest guitar item to lose!
During the hottest summer month, the project activities continued in full force! With each passing lesson, the children develop their abilities in all areas that we started working on in te previous. Now they can play Twinkle Twinkle and “Happy Birthday” more confidently as well as distinguish higher from lower notes and switch between Em and G chords.
What’s new this month is that we started learning the song Vasco the Frog (a part of a Bulgarian folk song), which the kids have been loving lately, as well as the song Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish.
This month was very eventful with the Music for Everyone Project. The eventful bit being that the kids from the foster home played their FIRST guitar concert! You can watch the video here:
They were so confident in their performance it made me truly happy to see! One of the project’s goals (and probably mine as a tutor) is to make the pupils more confident in their knowledge and the effort they have put in, also to play with joy even if there is a wrong note. It truly is the journey that matters!
In September we learned the whole songs Twinkle Twinkle and “Happy Birthday”, the children can now also play Vasco Jabata along with the song and we started a new one – “Mila moya mamo” (Dear mother). We also continue with the exercises for distinguishing major and minor chords by ear and overall the children are improving their knowledge of chords in general. They can now also switch faster between Em and C and Em and G chords!
In the beginning of the autumn, the children learned a lot of new things and reinforced what they already knew. They can now play the Dm chord and have improved switching between the Em and G chords. They were already familiar with the note C, but now they also know where to find it on the 5th string.
We also started to learn the beloved children’s song “Mila Moya Mamo” (Dear Mother), as well as another classic tune – “Zaychenceto byalo”(The White Bunny). In addition to all this, we also gave them a technical guitar exercise with the Chromatic Scale and they are practicing it diligently. It was another month filled with new things learned and fun times!
How to keep updated with the latest news about the project?
On this page we will post any news about the project’s progress, but if you want it delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for the special edition of Neli Music’s newsletter in which we will feature a special section about the project HERE and you’ll receive the news straight to your inbox every month.
You can also sign up in general for Neli’s newsletter HERE, where you will receive tips and materials that will help you learn to play the guitar every week and the special newsletter once per month.
* The project was implemented with the financial support of the National Culture Fund of Bulgaria under the “Socially Engaged Arts” program.